Bananas. What are they good for?


Bananas sure get a bad rap, don’t they? I can’t even tell you how many clients have looked at me and said, “I heard bananas are bad for you, so I don’t eat them,” and then proceed to fill me in on all the high carb, processed foods they do eat which somehow are much healthier or more acceptable than a banana. Why no love for the banana?

Believe it or not, bananas are GREAT for you! Yes they can be a bit high in carbs, but so are half the other foods you eat, right? It’s all about factoring it in. Bananas also have a host of great health benefits that are quickly overlooked because of their starchy interior. Let’s run through them real quick, shall we?

They aren’t that high carb!
A medium banana has about 30g of carb. Let’s see what else has 30 grams of carb: A big apple, 2 pieces of bread, 2/3 cup of cooked pasta, 1 cup beans, ¼ cup of raisins, and certainly any bakery item you would buy for a snack from Starbucks (well, that would be well OVER 30g of carb). All of these things people will eat, but the only one that gets singled out for being too starchy is the banana. Rethink it.

Loads of Vitamins
Bananas have a lot of great nutrition that you might be missing out on. They are a fantastic source of electrolytes like potassium and magnesium, making them a great part of the DASH diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension). Bananas also have a host of great vitamins and micronutrients like Vitamin C, B6, Manganese, Copper and Biotin.

Fuel for Exercise
The electrolytes we mentioned, when coupled with those 30 grams of carbohydrate, make them a good choice for a pre- or post-workout snack. They can also be used as fuel during long bouts of exercise since they usually don’t cause stomach upset and are easily digested.

Portable Snack, Especially for Kids
Not sure what to pack your kid on a road trip? Definitely think bananas. As we’ve talked already about they pack a good nutrition punch, provide a lot of energy, and come pre-wrapped with a naturally compostable covering to boot. And in terms of keeping my car clean from wrappers and crumbs, bananas are a winner. Also great for taking to work and keeping handy in your desk drawer.

A Prebiotic Food
What’s a prebiotic food you say? It’s a food with fibers that help feed the good bacteria in your gut. Bananas are one of those foods and can help keep your tummy happy.

An Egg Replacer
Allergic to eggs? Never fear, banana is here. Mashed banana makes an excellent egg replacer and can lend that desired binding property that baked goods need. Just make sure it’s a recipe that would taste good with some banana flavor! Replace one egg with ¼ cup mashed banana.

They Make Smoothies Taste Delicious
Add one to your smoothie and see. A smoothie with a banana is always a better smoothie. My kids, who are a poor source of credible information, tell me it’s a fact. I think they are actually right on this one.

As you can see, there are many, many reasons to love the banana. Or as my two year old calls them, the ba-na-NA-na (emphasis on the NA). Of course, be sure to pair your banana with a good protein source to keep your blood sugar in check, but otherwise, add this tasty fruit to your healthy snack repertoire.

About Danielle VenHuizen

Registered Dietitian, Certified LEAP Therapist